Thursday, May 14, 2009
Concerns of Police Survivors celebrated their 25th anniversary tonight at The Grand Hyatt in Washington DC. 25 years of rebuilding shattered lives. Membership in the police survivor club comes at a high price, the cost of the life of a loved one in the line of duty. The survivor stories were powerful and diverse. We heard from a surviving co-worker Kirk Clark, a surviving father Mike Pavelka, a surviving spouse Yvette Wallace, a surviving sibling Carol Botts of the Arapaho Tribe who also sign the Lord's prayer in her native language, a surviving mother Shirley Gibson who was the first black president of National COPS, and a surviving son Eric Strzalkowski who lost his father as an infant and recently join a Florida police department following in his father footsteps. Eric and several other young adult came on stage one by one announcing they are "the future of COPS". They showed their commitment to reach out and pull up the new survivors to help them deal with their loss and to be the living memorial of their fallen loved one. Eric had gone to many of COPS youth camp experiences and after he was older he went to Outward Bound which is the teen program.
COPS provides support and retreats to help survivors heal. The ceremony lasted until 11pm and as the Executive director Suzie Sawyer mentioned it has to be a good cause for people to stick around through such late hours to the end.
Tomorrow is the National Peace Officers' Memorial Service at the US Capitol.